Decreasing inter-publication waiting timeis quantitative evidence for cumulative advantage in science. (A) Schematic of a science career, where major accomplishments sustain career growth. Specifically, publications in high-impact journals serve as a record of scientists capitalizing on opportunities for success, and the duration between a scientist’s success n and success provide a quantitative method for analyzing cumulative advantage. We search for quantitative evidence of self-reinforcing social mechanisms by analyzing productivity patterns in specific journal sets that are highly competitive and widely targeted. (B) The average waiting time between publication n and publication shows a significant decreasing trend as an author continues to publish in a given journal set. A decreasing between publications suggests that an advanced publication career (larger n) facilitates future publications by leveraging reputation, expertise, seniority, and other cumulative resources. The values of are 2.9 yrs. (Cell), 2.4 yrs. (Econ.), 2.8 yrs. (Mgmt. Sci.), 3.6 yrs. (Nat./PNAS/Sci.), 4.3 yrs. (NEJM) and 3.1 yrs. (PRL). The journal PRL exhibits a more rapid decline in because of possible rapidity in successive publications (often by large high-energy experiment collaborations that publish many publications together in a single issue). Only research profiles with years and are included in the calculation of these inter-event waiting-time curves. In order to reduce censoring bias arising form careers that started before the beginning of each data sample, we only included trajectories with the first publication year for the natural and management sciences and for the economic sciences. (C, D) Complementary cumulative probability distribution, , for publications in (C) the Economics and (D) Nat./PNAS/Sci. journal sets. The distributions are right-skewed, indicating the possibility of a relatively long waiting time for all n. However, by the observed likelihood of waiting 3 or more years, , falls to roughly 0.2 for both Econ. and Nat./PNAS/Sci.